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The Sergeyev Collection


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#1 Solor

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 02:57 AM

I just bought a copy of the January 1976 issue of the Harvard Library Bulletin solely for the purpose of reading the article by Roland John Wiley 'Dances From Russia: An Introduction to the Sergeyev Collection" (I was very lucky, as the booklet turned 30 years old this month and is in excellent shape. According to the librarian I spoke to, there are only a couple copies left of this issue!)

The article was very insightful and fascinating, with valueable information. I had hoped however that there was a list of sorts of the things that are inlcuded in the collection. As well, I had hoped that there was an explanation as to how and why Harvard University got a hold of all the parts that make up the Sergeyev Collection......but there was not.

I think Ive asked this before - does anyone know, what ballets and dances are in the collection?
--how/why did Harvard get a hold of all of the things in this collection, and for how much?

#2 glebb

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 06:23 AM

Solor:
I visited the Pusey Library at Harvard about five years ago and I saw the notes for Swan Lake which pretty much looked like a record of the formations to me. I didn't have a lot of time so I was most likely not prepared enough.
I can't tell you the list of ballets but I do remember seeing set renderings from Ballet Russes ballets and my favorite part of the visit - a character shoe worn by Taglioni.

#3 ismeneb

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 09:37 AM

Solor: you asked how the Harvard Theatre Collection obtained the Sergeyev papers. It was through an English ballerina, Mona Inglesby, who ran the International Ballet in the UK from 1940 to 1953.

I interviewed her in 2000 for the Daily Telegraph re the Kirov's reconstruction of Beauty and heard first-hand some stuff that some dictionaries have wrong. Sergeyev, theatre director of the Maryinsky and chief regisseur, left USSR 1918 with three wooden crates containing the papers of the 25-year Maryinsky notation projection commanded by Petipa. It was in the obscure Stepanov notation, mostly loose papers, and recorded the mainstay of the Maryinsky repertoire over that golden period: some 24 ballets (including all the big popular Petipas, which Petipa himself frequently freshened up) and another 24 opera-ballets. He went to various places as a jobbing balletmaster, most significantly with Diaghilev (and old friends like Fokine), then with de Valois in London, where she took the Petipa texts as her base for 'Beauty', 'Giselle', 'Coppelia' and 'Swan Lake' (hence London's claim to historic authenticity in these).

Losing faith with de Valois, who allowed interpolations and edits in classics, Sergeyev started working with Inglesby, a decent young ex-Rambert ballerina who had set up a touring company in wartime of 40-80 dancers (including Harold Turner & Moira Shearer at different times). Her International Ballet staged these "true" Petipa productions of Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Sleeping Princess, and Fokine's Carnaval (with Bakst designs), Prince Igor dance &s Sylphides too, up and down the country. Sergeyev's estrangement from de Valois deepened apparently with the Sadler's Wells 1946 Sleeping Beauty which altered the sacred text; Inglesby said the IB version was closer to the original. In personality he was described by her, de Valois & others as rather rigid, conservative, lonely; very homesick for Russia and the old Imperial days.

When he died in 1951, he did NOT bequeath the notations to Inglesby, as it says in both the Oxford Dicts. Inglesby told me he left them to a Russian friend who had no interest in dance (perhaps hoping they'd find their way back to Russia). She was alarmed, paid this friend £200 for the notations, who thought himself well rewarded. She quit ballet to have a family, kept these three crates of notations, and worried about what to do with them. After abortive talks with the Royal Ballet, RAD and the Kirov Ballet (at the Grosvenor Hotel), she was pointed by Ivor Guest towards Harvard. They paid her (they told me) around £6,000 for the collection in 1969 - she remembered that sort of figure. The collection included the notations, which were effectively gibberish without Stepanov's primer, and much IB production material: photographs, programmes, costume swatches, designs, etc.

The notations were pretty much impenetrable, and their existence pretty much unknown, until the Kirov found the old Sleeping Beauty designs in the mid 1990s, by chance Tim Scholl told them that Harvard had the old notations, and an old Stepanov primer was unearthed in the Kirov library. Hence the reconstructions became possible. But reconstructions still depend on the very small number of competent readers of Stepanov - Pierre Lacotte depended on Doug Fullington for the Pharaoh's Daughter at the Bolshoi; Lacotte's view, based on Fullington's help, was that only a small number of the 254 pages were usable, hence his extensive rechoreography.[EDITED FOR CLARITY] (The Kirov's Vikharev questions that view.) Performances changed so often, and composers & choreographers were so obliging, that establishing what was the "authentic" benchmark of any ballet is a challenge; but thanks to Inglesby & what followed, this question must now assume centre stage in the future of staging classical ballet. Ismene Brown

Edited by ismeneb, 13 January 2006 - 04:59 AM.


#4 Paul Parish

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 09:52 AM

THank you, Ismene Brown. It is good to have that story so clearly told.

#5 richard53dog

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 11:45 AM

THank you, Ismene Brown. It is good to have that story so clearly told.

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This is a "me too" but what an explanation!!!!!!!!!


Thanks Ismene
:)


Richard

#6 rg

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 02:10 PM

As Doug Fullington finds time occasionally to speak for himself on this forum, I don’t think one should take second-parties speaking for him; I also doubt he feels what is attributed to him above regarding “Pharaoh’s Daughter” – in any case until he lets us know what he really thinks I don’t think we should let Vikharev, etc. speak for him (or against him).
from what i gathered at a news conf. lacotte gave in new york before the bolshoi's presentation of 'daughter of the pharaoh' he was the one who decided the information in the notations wasn't 'significant,' going so far as to say that when he saw what was revealed in the reconstructions from the notations, he decided it either wasn't 'good' petipa or 'wasn't petipa,' tho' he gave no basis for what made him so sure of his assessments.
doug fullington wrote a lengthy article on PHARAOH and its notations for THE DANCING TIMES, citing much that was in the notations, especially about the segments lacotte chose to ignore/bypass or re-make to his own tastes.


The following is from a typescript in the NYPL dance collection regarding the Sergeyev collection holdings:

1. Pharoah’s Daughter – 4 acts, 7 scenes
2. Paquita – 3 acts
3. The Awakening of Flora – 1 act
4. Raymonda – 3 acts, 4 scenes
5. The Magic Flute – 1 act
6. La Fille Mal Gardee – 3 acts, 4 scenes
7. Nutcracker – 2 acts, 3 scenes (not complete)
8. Le Roi Candaule – 4 acts, 6 scenes
9. Les Eleves Dupres – 2 acts
10. La Bayadere – 4 acts (not complete)
11. Sleeping Beauty – Prologue & 3 acts
12. Esmeralda – 3 acts, 5 scenes
13. Swan Lake – Prologue & 3 acts
14. Ruses d’Amour – 1 act
15. Coppelia – 2 acts
16. Giselle – 2 acts
17. The Fairy of the Dolls – 1 act, 2 scenes
18. Harlequinade (Les Millions d’Arlequin) – 2 acts
19. The Caprice of the Butterfly – 1 act
20. The Enchanted Forest – 1 act
21. Le Corsaire – 3 acts, 4 scenes
22. The Humpbacked Horse or The Tsar Maiden – 4 acts, 10 scenes
23. The Halt of the Cavalry – 1 act [marked ‘lacking’]
24. The Talisman – excerpt
25. Several Operas (Ballet excerpts 32 operas)
26. Small Balletic Pieces No. 1 – numerous items from the various ballets.
27. Small Balletic Pieces No. 2 – [ditto above]
28. Small Balletic Pieces No. 3 – [ditto above]
29. Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor
30. Songe du Rajah separately – from Bayadere

#7 doug

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 02:25 PM

Hi, everyone. Right, it was actually Lacotte's view that most of the Pharaoh notation was unusable. Pharaoh is notated like many of the ballets in the collection - mostly by N. Sergeev and mostly just for legs and feet with groundplan. But this format is generally quite usable. I've not worked extensively on Pharoah, but I was able to reconstruct everything Lacotte provided. In the end, however, he used very little.

I hope it has not gotten into print anywhere that I feel the notation mostly unusable! I believe just the opposite and continue to work with ballets notated in a similar fashion to Pharaoh.

Harvard documents list $7500US as the price paid for the collection.

Cheers,

#8 Solor

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 06:17 PM

doug fullington wrote a lengthy article on PHARAOH and its notations for THE DANCING TIMES

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What issue is this?!? I would love to purchase it!.....I just purchased the 11/04 issue which had an article on 'Jardin Anime'....havnt gotten it in the mail yet though.


THANKS RG! I have long wanted to know what was in the collection. I really hope that all of the notations are put to use to resurrect the old works.......and are not just left to collect dust if you get my meaning.

#9 doug

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 06:27 PM

I would have to check which Dancing Times issue it was (I believe sometime in 2000). My article discussed the Rivers variations, offering the choreography as recorded in the notation and discussion of the accompanying music from the two-violin repetiteur, also in the Sergeev Collection.

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 07:18 PM

I could swear that somewhere along the line of provenance, Harvard grad Lincoln Kirstein had something to do with the transaction, but just what, I don't know.

#11 Hans

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 08:07 PM

Good god, the gems on that list! Is all that really usable for staging?

#12 rg

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 08:10 PM

doug has looked through these, i think the 'short' of it is that, no, not all the notations are full enough to aid in reasonably 'full' stagings, but some others obviously are.
here then is the citation for doug's DANCING TIMES article:
Fullington, Doug: The river variations in Petipa's La fille du Pharaon.
Dancing times. London. Dec. 2000, p. 249, 251, 253, 255. ill.
Description the choreography for the river variations from Petipas's ballet La fille du Pharaon, reconstructed by Manard Stewart and Doug Fullington for the Bolshoi Ballet's revival of the work.

#13 ismeneb

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 04:37 AM

I beg Doug Fullington's pardon for some sloppy wording above, which I have edited. I did not intend to question his judgment of the usability of Stepanov notations for Pharaoh's Daughter; this was too shortly worded from Pierre Lacotte's opinion when I interviewed him re Pharaoh's Daughter reconstruction, thus: "[The quality of the Pharaoh notation is] Not good enough. It is good for Sleeping Beauty, Bayadere, and many other ballets, but for Daughter it was only good for HIS [Petipa's] memory. You have a lot of notes which I used, but choreographically it's not in detail.... I asked a friend in America (Doug Fullington) to send me a video and I was surprised, because he said, everything is not right in the score. ... Well, two variations were very clear, two girls in the pas d'action. I took them, and I asked him to do the Rivers. And he did the Rivers, but I'm sorry when I saw it, it was not right, it was not clear, it was like two steps here and nothing else, and I know Petipa and I said, I'm sorry, I don't want to do that, the notation is not very good." Lacotte finally took the advice of Semionova, the last Aspiccia, who told him (he said): "Listen, I'll give you good advice - you know the style, you know all the ballets of Petipa very well, do it yourself. Pay respect to the style but do it yourself." This clarifies that it was Lacotte who decided, based on Fullington's help, that the notation was not comprehensive enough.

Re the state of Harvard archive, there is some rather haphazard filing, since fluent readers of old Russian with a detailed knowledge of 19th-century ballet do not often turn up among the staff. When I asked Harvard in 2004 about the Pharaoh notation I was first told that only 22 sheets of fragments existed. When I queried this, they corrected and apologised (quote: "Oh dear, I'm very glad you wrote back... Thank you for your persistence"), saying the bulk of Pharaoh (a 254-page choreographic/mime score, a full 251-page orchestral score, a 7-page detailed synopsis of the ballet, etc) was filed under its composer Cesare Pugni, rather than Petipa. Misleading filing is a problem, I am told, if a clerk did not have the knowledge to place a named dance with the right ballet. Eg 'The Rivers' had been annotated by someone (possibly a reader, rather than a cataloguer) 'La Source, not Pharaoh's Daughter'. Also the Russian habit of ascribing a ballet to the composer rather than the choreographer is reversed in the West, hence perhaps the Pugni-Petipa mix-up. It is not an ideal situation, therefore, but perhaps one day it will be. Ismene Brown

Edited by ismeneb, 13 January 2006 - 05:00 AM.


#14 Solor

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 07:19 AM

I asked a friend in America (Doug Fullington) to send me a video and I was surprised,

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So did Doug have a dancer perform the stuff on video and the sent it to Lacotte? Just curious how one gets the notation to the feet of a dancer.

WOW - 7500 bucks isnt much for so priceless a collection.......

Speaking of the 'Songe du Rajah', did the ballet Russe ever stage a Bayadere - isnt that where that came from?

I really hope that those notations dont just sit and collect dust if you get my meaning.....besides the research and valueable info they provide, what use are they if they just sit in a library? By the way, can anyone just go to the Harvard Library and make copies of stuff from the collection?

#15 Helene

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 07:23 AM

WOW - 7500 bucks isnt much for so priceless a collection.......

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It's been rare times when the pound to dollar exchange rate was as little as 1.25.


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